|Southern Pacific Night Train - Richard Steinheimer|
December 25, 1993. I was 13-years-old.
My dad was in the Navy, and that meant moving to a new place every year or so. This time he was transferred to Alameda, California. The military housing we were assigned to was on Treasure Island, halfway between Oakland and San Francisco.
|Track Forman's Watch - Richard Steinheimer|
I was immediately captivated by the beauty of this place. I would get up early and watch the sunrise over Berkeley. I would watch it disappear behind the Golden Gate Bridge in the evening. It was December, and at night the San Francisco skyline was lit for Christmas.
I wanted to capture all of this. I wanted to remember. I knew that we would not live on the island for very long, and then it would be off to somewhere else.
So when my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I knew there was only one thing: a camera.
On Christmas morning there wasn't a whole lot under the tree. Service members didn't earn a lot in those days, and it was especially difficult financially to live in an expensive city like San Francisco. But there was a gift colorfully wrapped for me under the tree, and one for my older brother and younger sister, too.
Under the wrapping paper and inside a box was a Kodak 110 point-and-shoot camera and a handful of film cartridges. This was my Christmas present. It was also the very beginning of a journey that I've been on now for over two decades.
|28 Degrees Below At Thistle, Utah - Richard Steinheimer|
I was blown away.
I was a kid who really didn't know anything about photography, but what I saw on the pages of that magazine made a lasting impression on me. Steinheimer's images were at a level above those of the other photographers that I saw.
Richard Steinheimer's photographs were easily recognizable. You could tell it was one of his images without even looking at the credit or reading the caption. There was a certain aesthetic that was unique to him.
|UPRR No. 3957 "Challenger" - Richard Steinheimer|
Photojournalism and product photography were not Steinheimer's passion. He was passionate about railroads in the vast landscapes of western America.
For six decades, over 400 of Steinheimer's photographs were published in different magazines, mostly railroad publications like Trains. His photographs were printed in dozens of books, including several that featured his images exclusively. His photographs have hung on gallery walls, such as the Robert Mann Gallery in New York.
|Armageddon And Creation - Richard Steinheimer|
Richard Steinheimer died in 2011 after battling Alzheimer's Disease for over a decade. He was 81.
Even though I was young when I was first exposed to his photography, there are two important lessons that I learned from Richard Steinheimer.
|Southern Pacific Steam Helper at Saugus - Richard Steinheimer|
I would later come to know this as photographic vision. It is something that Steinheimer had mastered like few others. Perhaps that is why some have called him "the Ansel Adams of railroad photography."